Lesley Anastasiou works for the NHS Foundation Trust at the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston where her responsibilities are to ensure operating and clinical areas at the hospital meet NHS quality standards and the relevant documentation is in place. But despite having a very busy role as a Pathology Quality Manager she started to look around for ways to get more intellectual stimulation from her job. Having been in the post for five years, Lesley confesses to wanting a new challenge in her working life at that time…
‘If I'm honest, I sometimes get bored easily. About two years ago, when I was feeling like that about my job, I went to my manager about an in-house NHS management course that was running at the time. But he had done a business masters in Scotland and loved it and recommended I look into an MBA as an alternative. He told me it would give me a view of business practice outside the NHS, some new skills and a whole new way of thinking.'
Lesley decided to do the part-time Executive MBA at UEA as she, her husband and two children have been settled in Norwich for some time. She considered a distance learning course like the Open University but she came to one of the MBA Open Evenings and liked the look of what she saw -
‘I especially liked the look of the consultancy modules. The idea of team consultancy work really appealed to me. In my day job within the Trust I work very much on my own. I've done one consultancy project to date, for Shaping Norfolk's Future. It was daunting to start with but when our team had developed a brief to suit the client it became less difficult and more interesting. It also gave me an insight into the banking sector of which I had no previous knowledge. We managed to get some press coverage and created a lot of talk within the business community which was appreciated.'
‘The consultancy project has been the most useful thing about the course so far. The International Consultancy Assignment, a weeklong module in Prague was also a highlight for me - everything we had previously learnt just fitted into place there.'
‘Working in small groups is good for me and the mixed background of the rest of the cohort is a big bonus - I like learning from different people. I am very much from an NHS background and this experience has broadened my knowledge massively. The interaction we have in lectures is very stimulating too – the discussion really broadens your outlook on the subject. By contrast the structure and formality of exams threw me at first – but ‘touch wood', my marks have been OK so far.
Lesley intends to stay with the NHS Trust after completing her MBA, especially after some recent changes there. Eventually she is looking to make a move up the organisation and believes that having the MBA will really help her with this progression.
‘I think the course has given me a good management foundation. I've deliberately based some of my assignments on the NHS Trust to increase my understanding of the job while I'm studying - I've learned so much already! There's a really diversity mix of students in my year. They seem to complement each other well with different skills and backgrounds. They're a really great group, and I'm lucky to be part of it. I feel I've made connections for life with some of the people there and I hope to keep in contact with them after our MBAs are finished.'
And how does Lesley sum up the question of her experience so far of the Executive MBA at the Norwich Business School? Answer - ‘I've loved it!'